EPA Seeks Increased Regulatory Power

Tuesday, 20 Dec 2011 12:50 PM

By Dan Weil

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Environmental Protection Agency policy has become a flashpoint between the two parties, and Republicans aren’t going to be happy to learn that that the EPA wants to greatly expand its power to regulate businesses, communities and ecosystems. The agency seeks the increased authority as part of a move toward “sustainable development,” Fox News reports.

The intellectual basis for the EPA’s philosophy is embodied in a report published this summer based on a $700,000 study by the National Academies of Science. The study is titled “Sustainability and the U.S. EPA.”

The group that wrote the study said part of its job was “providing guidance to EPA on how it might implement its existing statutory authority to contribute more fully to a more sustainable-development trajectory for the United States.” That sounds like a roundabout way of saying the aim was to provide a blueprint to increase the EPA’s regulatory footprint.

The National Academies says the study “both incorporates and goes beyond an approach based on assessing and managing the risks posed by pollutants that has largely shaped environmental policy since the 1980s.”

The study says implementation of a new “sustainability framework” will engender a more “anticipatory” approach by the EPA in dealing with environmental issues, widen its target to include both social and economic as well as environmental issues, and “strengthen EPA as an organization and a leader in the nation’s progress toward a sustainable future.”

In response to questions from Fox, an EPA spokesman said, “We are currently reviewing the recommendations and have not yet made any decisions on implementation. The agency will seek a wide range of perspectives on the recommendations from the business community, non-governmental organizations, the scientific community and others.”

A change in the EPA’s operations would likely happen over an extended period, the study says.


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